Garlic bread from scratch?
September 6, 2012 12:30 PM   Subscribe

If you were going to make garlic bread from scratch (flour, yeast, water, garlic, butter, olive oil, salt, maybe cheese) what kind of bread would you use as the base?

This Saturday will be an off-day from my current no-grains diet and I have am having a hankering for spaghetti bolonese and garlic bread*. The bolognese is already made and has been waiting in the freezer for just such an event, and while there are lots of easy paths to garlic bread, I feel like at least one part of this meal should be real work.

I've made bread before, relying heavily on The Bread Bible and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I probably won't got with an ABi5M recipe because the quanties are a bit much for a two-person household given our current diet.

I could probably (pantry willing) start a sponge or starter tonight (with multiple fridge rises to bake on Saturday) so I could pull off even the more convoluted recipes in The Bread Bible, the question is what kind?

Right now, I'm thinking:

1) French Baguette -- the shape is right, and it's what I would buy if I was making garlic bread on a more time compressed schedule. But, you know, it's French.

2.) Foccacia -- olive-oily and delicious -- but with garlic (and maybe cheese) added, will it be too much like pizza?

3.) Standard American White Loaf -- mainly because this isn't something that I'd normally bake, and I've seen some Wonderbread knockoff recipes that both intrigue and horrify me.

Sourdough is probably out because I don't really like it, and I don't have a "proper" starter available -- so it wouldn't be really sourdoughy anyways. I probably also don't want to do one of those roasted-garlic-baked-into-the-loaf things, because while roasted garlic is _delicious_, it's not the flavour profile that I have in my head right now.

Help me eat unhealthy, hivemind!

*Yes, I know the Italians sneer at North Americans who eat carbs with our carbs but this is an "I don't want to be right" kind of situation.
posted by sparklemotion to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
French bread, indeed, is your ticket to scrumptious garlic bread.
posted by Lynsey at 12:33 PM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

You can make garlic bread however you want. In Italy I've seen it on a thin 'Romano' pizza base and in baguette form. Personally I prefer the latter, and would make it that way.

If you're making foccacia, it would be a crime not to top it with olive oil, sea salt and lots of rosemary. Garlic would just be wrong.
posted by pipeski at 12:38 PM on September 6, 2012

French bread is definitely the beeeeest. Crispy and melty at the same time!
posted by brilliantine at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2012

French bread tears the hell out of my mouth, and it's just too fluffy. I like ciabatta for garlic bread, but I don't know if you have that as an option.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2012

Response by poster: Ciabatta is definitely an option as well -- I couldn't remember the name of that other italian bread that I also liked.

Right now, I'm super excited that Beranbaum's baguette recipe calls for not just one but two starters, which is just the kind of ridiculous fiddliness that I'm in the mood for this weekend.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:57 PM on September 6, 2012

I'm voting baguette, as well.

Also, in case the flavor profile you're looking for is not dissimilar to the bizarrely, embarrassingly addictive garlic bread you can buy in grocery store bakeries, I give to you the recipe I learnt when working in a grocery store bakery.

Take one container Country Crock and start beating it with a fork. Mix in garlic powder, chopped parsley, and salt--you do this to taste, and err on the side of too much rather than not enough. Spread atop bread, then sprinkle with paprika.

I'm not saying it's classy. I'm not saying it's authentic. But I am saying that it's really, really satisfying.
posted by MeghanC at 12:57 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can make smaller quantities of the ABi5M recipe; I do it all the time. I like to mix up a one-third size batch, let it rest for a day or two, then bake it all as one loaf. Turns out fine. Roll it out into a long shape and it'd be perfect for garlic bread. You might want a slightly shorter baking time with the thinner loaf shape.
posted by echo target at 1:01 PM on September 6, 2012

Best answer: You really don't need to fiddle with all those starters. She's doing that to get flavor into the bread from all the little bugs eating and burping up wheat - but you are just going to lather it with garlic butter anyway. Not to mention a good baguette has too open a crumb for Garlic Bread.

(also those breads in that link look not so great)

I'd just make a 60-65% hydration loaf with a little OO in it (to keep the crumb soft and not too open) and a nice long bulk ferment in your fridge over night. Form it into something not quite a batard and not quite a baguette proof and bake.

Or if you want a nice fiddly recipe - try this one from smitten kitchen. It uses a Biga. I think since he wrote that book Reinhard has become a folder, not a kneader. Folding is so much easier in every way.
posted by JPD at 1:10 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried it yet, but this cheesy garlic bread is the most-pinned recipe ever on Pinterest, so it must be doing something right. Looks to be a basic simplified baguette gone over the top.
posted by libraryhead at 1:14 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Focaccia makes a good garlic bread.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:26 PM on September 6, 2012

Something baguette-ish, for sure.

This will depend on your local water, but my platonic ideal of garlic bread uses New Orleans style French Bread as its base. It's a wider loaf with a thinner, more crisp and less chewy crust. I found a recipe here, but I have no idea whether it's any good or not.
posted by Sara C. at 1:39 PM on September 6, 2012

Reading the answer from MeghanC (no relation), I have to say that if you combine that approach to garlic butter plus my above recipe for NOLA-style French Bread (again, assuming that's an OK recipe), you will have what in my opinion is the best garlic bread known to man.
posted by Sara C. at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2012

the NO French Bread has some fat in it. and is about 55%-60% hydration (lame volumetric baking recipes)

Really its closer to Italian Bread. A Baguette is always a lean loaf.
posted by JPD at 1:58 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I get some garlic flavor into olive oil when I make focaccia, including a quick fry of some garlic chips which go on after the baking's done.

You can also bake the garlic right in there-- I would par-roast the garlic ahead in case it doesn't roast in the bread (it would steam, really).

But I feel that baguette is more the way to go, generally speaking. yum yum yum
posted by Sunburnt at 2:40 PM on September 6, 2012

Just be aware that if you're using a standard recipe for garlic bread, that garlic can inhibit the yeast somewhat. Not a huge deal, but don't be surprised if proofing takes a little longer.
posted by smoke at 4:15 PM on September 6, 2012

I would definitely use a lean dough mixture, something like 500g flour / 325g water / 1 tsp fast action yeast / 1 tsp salt. An enriched dough with butter or oil incorporated would be too rich with the garlic.

Your choice then to shape into baguettes, bake and slather with butter and chopped garlic.

Or spread out into a focaccia shape and cover in olive oil, chopped garlic and sea salt.

I wouldn't go for a normal loaf shape.
posted by Bigbrowncow at 4:33 PM on September 6, 2012

Best answer: Brioche bread. It'll take on a crisp layer of tastiness without becoming hard and sharp. I use James Beard's recipe pretty closely. You can do this with anything, but the brioche takes it that extra mile into perfection.

Take a whole head of garlic (or 10). Preheat to 400F, cut the top off of it so that all of the cloves are exposed a little bit, drizzle some olive oil and wrap the thing in foil. Put it in the oven for 35 or 40 minutes until it's all gooey roasted and stuff.

Open it up and set it out to cool while you put some softened butter, a few cloves of un-roasted garlic, and a bunch of parsley into a food processor or blender.

Squeeze your head(s) of roasted garlic in there too and blend til it's a nice bright green. Take that shit and put an even, crust-to-crust layer on your already slightly toasted bread, then sprinkle a thin layer of your favorite/handy finely grated hard cheese on top. Broil that til you get a few brown bubbles and then try not to wake the neighbors when you taste it.
posted by cmoj at 8:50 PM on September 6, 2012

I vote for ciabatta!

As for sourdough, it doesn't have to taste extremely sour. Make it as sour or not-sour as you wish (I don't like a pronounced sour flavor for my starter either). But as you have no starter, that is out!
posted by Piscean at 6:00 PM on September 9, 2012

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